In late September, the midday sun has become a little more partial than it was in July and August, and it is no longer waving the heat around so boldly, and the months of stifling heat have finally dissipated a bit in these two days.
When October rolls around, it will be almost autumn, and in a little while it will be time for the Inter-school National Day Joint Performances that N City High School holds every year.
In addition to the school’s clubs and student councils, each freshman and sophomore class is required to submit two entries, and then the auditions will be held afterwards. If the program makes it to the Inter-school Top Ten, the school will award a pennant to the class or club where the program is located.
Since the class was an experimental class, grades were the most important thing, and the class teacher didn’t pay much attention to this kind of honor, so up to now the class didn’t even have a full complement of programs.
In her previous life, Zhang Man remembered that her class had only one program, which was a dance program for a few girls, and the final selection process ended with no results.
After having a meal, she and Chen Feier walked around the school yard.
As the largest high school in N City, the First Middle School covers a vast area. The school has two fields, one with a 400-meter circle track and a huge artificial green lawn in the middle with a wide soccer field. The other was a cinder track with volleyball and basketball courts in the center, where they normally had PE classes.
And the soccer field was very close to the cafeteria.
Chen Feier was walking back and forth on a hollow concrete pillar placed horizontally beside the track, swinging her arms up and down to maintain her balance and playing happily.
Zhang Man was a little worried about her wobbly form and stood at the bottom to protect her.
After walking back and forth for a while, Chen Feier suddenly remembered: “Man Man, I heard that your class didn’t have enough students for the National Day Performance, why didn’t you sign up? I’m sure you sing so beautifully and play the guitar well too.”
Zhang Man’s guitar skills and singing were learned from Zhang Huifang.
When she was young, Zhang Huifang was a lead singer in a band and sometimes a musician as well, and she was proficient in all popular instruments. When Zhang Man was young, Zhang Huifang taught her how to play guitar at home, teaching her everything from folk to rock, depending on her mood each day.
She was very casual in teaching and learning but the results were not bad, perhaps because of her natural musicality.
Now that Chen Feier suddenly mentioned it, Zhang Man couldn’t help but feel some sadness: “Me? It’s better to forget about it, I haven’t touched it in years.”
She’s thinking about the past life.
After Zhang Huifang and Zheng Zineng got married in her previous life, she transferred to H City. A lot has happened since then, and the trials and tribulations of life have made life very difficult for both mother and daughter. Zhang Huifang no longer sang and played the piano and she as the daughter never touched the guitar again, even more so after she started working.
After all these years, her skills in playing the guitar had become rusty.
Chen Feier looked at her strangely and said, “How long has it been, just over a month? You played the guitar for me on my birthday this summer, remember? Man Man, that English song you played was so beautiful and you sing so well, I even felt it could be compared to a professional singer.”
Zhang Man was stunned, a little startled by her words. This year, she was still at the age where she used to play the guitar and sing.
Luckily, Chen Feier didn’t take her seriously and said with a wink and a smile: “Moreover, Man Man, aren’t you gonna chase after Li Wei? I’m telling you, guys like girls who are versatile and mysterious. Think about it, he usually knows you as a simple, quiet person who doesn’t talk much. Then one day, he suddenly realizes that this girl can sing so well, he’ll notice you more or less, right?”
Zhang Man was a little skeptical after hearing it and asked, “Is that ……true?”
Chen Feier leaned from one end of the cement pillar to the other, nodded her head ruthlessly, and patted her chest: “With my many years of experience reading romance novels, this move is dead on.”
She nodded her head so much that she couldn’t keep her balance and almost fell down, but Zhang Man was watching her and quickly gave her a hand.
After a short walk, Zhang Man went to the cafeteria to buy a lunch box for Li Wei and took it back to the classroom. When she returned to her seat, Li Wei was reading a paper printed out in English, and she took a glance at it.
As he read it, he made notes on the side of some formulas and figures, and his fountain pen writing on the snowy white A4 paper made a “rustling” sound.
Zhang Man put the lunch box on his table.
“Li Wei …… what do you think about girls playing a musical instrument?”
She remembered what Chen Feier had just said, and asked the question spontaneously.
Li Wei just finished pushing a formula and put down his pen, leaned back in his chair, closed his eyes and pressed his temples and said, “Well, Janet is a pianist. When I was little and couldn’t sleep, she would carry me to the piano room and play the piano for me.”
Although he looked a little tired, he still had a warm tone in his voice when he mentioned his mother.
When she heard that, Zhang Man caught her breath.
“Then …… what happened later?”
The young man’s appearance was somewhat in a trance, as if he was remembering memories. Zhang Man’s heart tightened, worried that he had discovered some fault in his memory that would trigger a negative effect on him.
He thought carefully, his voice was calm and natural: “Later …… I forgot, she emigrated when I was very young.”
She was relieved to hear him reply, but at the same time she was somewhat shocked. His paranoia, indeed, was so severe that it bordered on a logical self-control.
The visual hallucinations plus the auditory hallucinations construct a fantasy world that is eerily real and highly realistic. He is completely convinced that the fantasy in his mind is reality, so even if someone told him that his mother is already dead, he probably wouldn’t believe a word of it.
Zhang Man didn’t dare to ask any more questions, so she changed the subject: “What about the guitar? Do you like guitar?”
The young man nodded gently, “Sometimes I can’t make sense out of a book, so I listen to some country music, or slow rock.”
So after the evening study session, Zhang Man went to see the Literature Committee member, Dai Xi, and signed up. She was one of the dancers herself, and was a little puzzled when she saw how late Zhang Man had come to register and said, “There are still ten days left before the performance.”
She was interested in making things difficult for Zhang Man, so she added, “Look, instead of signing up for it, you come with me to the Literature Department tomorrow after class and play a song for us to listen to. If you pass the test, we will talk again or else we will lose the reputation of our class.”
Usually, it takes more than three days to arrange for the application and the selection, but she asked Zhang Man to attend the selection the next day, which was indeed difficult for her.
Zhang Man frowned and thought about the possibility of practicing in one day. She had a song in mind, which was fine for singing and mainly focused on playing guitar.
It shouldn’t be hard to pick it up. Zhang Man nodded, filled out the application form and planned to leave.
Right after she turned around, Dai Xi called out to her.
“By the way …… Zhang Man, do you like Li Wei?” In her voice, there was a bit of hidden happiness that poked fun at her, and her voice rose, “Too bad, he seems to have a girlfriend already.”
“He’s usually very rude, but the last time I heard him call that girl from a payphone booth at school, his voice was extremely gentle. Can’t you see that he’s still cold towards you?”
Zhang Man looked back at her with a blank expression and said, “It is none of your business what I do.”
She managed to get back to her seat quickly but suddenly lost all her strength when she sat down. A lot of things in her past life were brought forward because of her rebirth.
For example, there was this rumor.
It was something she never wanted to remember, and it was the very reason why she was separated from Li Wei in her previous life.
It was the first semester of her sophomore year of high school in her previous life, about a month or two before Zhang Man transferred to another school.
Normally, they shared the same table at school and she would go to his house every weekend to make up classes, so they spent almost every day together.
At that time, their relationship was much better than it is now, at least that’s what Zhang Man thought. Although they didn’t say so explicitly, the young man always walked her home every night after the make-up classes were over, escorting her through one streetlight after another.
Occasionally, when she came to school, she would bring him some appetizing soy milk and breakfast, which he would eat one bite at a time without wasting any of it. At that time, he would look at her with a soft and warm light in his eyes.
It’s the kind of closeness and affection that they don’t have yet.
Zhang Man at the age of seventeen is simply foolish, she knows in her heart that she has fallen in love with a young man, but she is afraid to go deeper.
Perhaps, he was the same as well.
Probably because he was worried that he might scare her, he never mentioned his family in front of her. As for her, she never asked about his father’s suicide either, as she had heard about it from some rumors and was worried about the possibility of hurting him.
Young love is always like that, eager to touch yet fearful at the same time, both sides deliberately keeping their distance beyond a certain limit.
The distance brought by this blurry and innocent affection led to various misunderstandings later on, eventually leading to an end of their relationship.
At that time, Zhang Man experienced her first love, and every day when she saw Li Wei beside her, her heart felt warm as if she was eating honey.
But one day, she heard from someone that Li Wei actually had another girlfriend.
They told her at that time that Li Wei always called that girl, and that he showed a kind of tenderness to her that she had never seen before.
They also said that Li Wei’s girlfriend’s name was Janet.
When she heard these words, Zhang Man thought it was just one of Li Wei’s many untrustworthy rumors, so she didn’t bother to pay attention to it at all and told herself that she had to learn to trust him.
She told herself in her heart that she should learn to trust him. However, this trust was completely broken shortly afterwards.
In November, it was already early autumn in N City, and the weather was getting colder. During that time, Li Wei had just returned from the national finals of the Physics competition in Z City and she remembers that she bought him a small gift and prayed for him.
That evening, she and Chen Feier went to the field after dinner to walk and chat, and walked along the synthetic track.
The afterglow of the setting sun and the dark red synthetic track almost merged into one, and after walking around a certain corner, Zhang Man saw Li Wei making a phone call in a public phone booth next to the field.
The young man was dressed in his school uniform, and his figure was stretched out in the setting sun, his sleeves rolled up to his elbows, and he was holding a telephone in his well-defined hands, with a thrilling smile on his lips.
Zhang Man was overjoyed at the chance encounter, and quietly approached him from behind, wanting to surprise him by tapping his shoulder when he hung up the phone but heard his voice as he made the call.
The young man said in a soft voice, “Janet, is it very cold in Canada right now? You have to wear a lot of clothes, be sure to wear a hat and scarf when you go out, and a mask as well… Mm, I just got back from the finals so feel free to come by anytime during this time ……”
He was droning on about some trivial things in life, and his voice was so gentle and low that it could clearly reach her ears with the autumn breeze, like someone scratching her ear socket with a soft feather.
Zhang Man was standing behind him, very close to him, and yet she was listening to him use such a gentle voice to call another girl.
The first thing that came to her mind was that there really was such a girl named Janet, but in the next second, with hindsight, she felt an extremely sour feeling in her chest spreading, as if she had been stuffed with a peeled lemon inside.
Sorry for the lack of update last week. I have exams coming up so I can only translate on my remaining free time. 😓